These systems are usually neglected, and we find that when a failure occurs in part of the system, it may still function, but continues to deteriorate and small problems become larger to the point where the system is unusable. Often at the worst time!
It’s much easier to consistently maintain the system, then rebuild it entirely.
If you are looking at purchasing a used boat, feel free to have us schedule a diagnostic session to review the sanitation system as many surveyors only test if the head flushes, but that does not mean it does not need many repairs to be reliably, useful and odor free.
Items we check on a diagnostic session:
- Vacuum test
- Check vent line filter and condition
- Inspect for any leaks or improper work done by others.
Sanitation – Odor in Boat
Often we will get a call that there is a foul odor in the boat with the black water system suspected, but sometimes people think that it’s “just the way boats smell” until it gets really bad with an active sewage leak in the bilge coming from some part of the black-water system.
We go through a few questions, set up a diagnostic session and come look at the boat. Oftentimes it’s quite obvious. The black water hoses are permeating odor due to age and at times poor design, allowing waste to sit in the houses for long periods of time. Also, suspect is the tank, its fittings and gaskets, the anti-collapse valve and oftentimes we’ve seen others attempt to carry out repairs that have been improperly done leading to other failures in the system.
If you smell something strange and suspect any issues, please have us look at it first, as we are experts in this area of your boat and can diagnose it correctly the first time.
VacuFlush head clogged and we need help!
My head is clogged and we need some help! Yes, this is never a pleasant situation and we get this call regularly. If it’s a VacuFlush system, do NOT attempt to use a plunger, it may invert the duckbill valves or cause other damage.
Oftentimes when we are called out for this type of job it’s because household toilet tissue was used not the Boat/RV TP required. Never use this type of paper and always flush thoroughly. After each use, do not combine, use or wait until it’s full and any attempt to save water flush after each use regardless of how much waste was put in the toilet.
The next biggest problem we have are foreign objects being put in the head by your guests. We recently were at a boat, and everyone swore nobody had put anything down there and of course we found the notorious“white tail rat”—This is disgusting, but it’s often what we find to the clients’ disbelief. The feminine hygiene product along with the wrappers and foreign objects will not process on most marine sanitation systems. Also, often we will see the vacuum switch is not working correctly therefore not allowing the vacuum generator to create the correct vacuum, which can become replacing the vacuum generator, rebuilding it, and also at the same time rebuilding the head (ball, shaft, seals, ect.)
If this happens to you make sure your tank is not full and can try to use a shop-vac to reduce the amount of waste In the toilet and re-flush if the system is working.
Make sure to never use bleach as it can deteriorate the duckbill valves, and other rubber components.
VacuFlush – Tank Maintenance
All sanitation systems have a tank of some sort. Some with processing ability such as a Purisan EX chemically treat the waste and discharge it overboard, but most just have a holding tank.
The tank is generally buried in a hold, engine room, or area that was a convenient place for the boat-builder to place the system when building your boat new for your hull’s specific living specification.
Only use marine grade toilet tissue to keep the head, hose, valves, tank and tank-level float/sensors working properly. Occasionally we will get a call with a tank not pumping out completely or it seems to be full of sludge. There could be a few problems from a faulty dip-tube, leak on other fittings, a cracked tank or it’s just been full of waste for way too long. We have had to remove the sludge manually and it’s a nasty process, but can be done with our specialized vacuum and other tools.
If you spend several months away from the vessel we recommend you pump out your tank then keep your tank full of water (filling tank by flushing) with a few ounces of laundry detergent, so any waste does not harden to a dry scale on the level sending device, dip tube, ect.
Our final recommendation for boat owners is to NEVER pour bleach in the head or tank.
Electrosea “ are they really that good?”
Yes, but nothing.
And almost maintenance, free raw water, cooling experience for your air conditioning, ice making, and Seakeeper. We have installed many of these systems and the long-term results are absolutely worth the investment. What’s most impressive is just the lack of weekly cleaning of the strainer as well as aggressive chemical descaling when flow problems become a failure, causing the air conditioning system or other systems to be inoperational. A major point with the Electrosea is the installation quality.
If the vessel is a few months or older, generally, we need to look at the raw water components, and do a basic flush of the coils etc. If the vessel is older, we are going to need to descale the system, replace route water hoses and also review the style, size and location of the pump. The performance of the Electrosea is dependent upon correct installation and flow rate.
Once installed, we have personally seen years of trouble-free use with no growth in the system on previously problematic vessels with very minimal cleaning of the strainer on our end.
Please call us to see if your boat is a good candidate for the system and we can provide you with an estimate.